Climate change is a severe problem that has enveloped the entire world. Surroundings aid in determining major factors in human life like lifestyle. Over time, humans of particular regions have become accustomed to the surroundings they live in, but now that the climate has been changing drastically it has affected the settlement in numerous ways. The change in the environment has led to a major change in the construction industry. Architects and Engineers must consider many factors like wind and seismic loads while designing any structure. Because a harsh climate can cause things to deteriorate more quickly than usual, building materials are chosen with considerable care.

Results of climate change 

The loads mentioned are just structural loads but changes in the temperature can lead to corrosion, reduction in material strength and degradation of the structure. The Architects, Engineers and construction (AEC) industry have been reevaluating the design strategies of buildings to develop stable structures against adverse climates.  The temperature of our planet has been continuously rising by 0.16°F with every decade. However, these changes are only caused due to human interference.  Any activity is it, illuminating homes, driving vehicles or constructing homes leads to the release of greenhouse gas. The global building sector is responsible for around 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. When pollutants are exposed to the air, they trap heat in the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature.

How climate change is changing the way we build? - Sheet1
Greenhouse gas emission due to the construction industry_©

As a result of this event, floods—which were formerly sporadic—now occur frequently. A place’s ecosystem and buildings can be quickly destroyed by persistent floods. Frequent rain and extreme heat can damage the exterior covering, and additional moisture can act as a termite nest. Engineers and architects face a hurdle when trying to plan in such situations. Building in a hot region, for instance, requires techniques for mechanically helping the internal cooling process. Changes must be made to the type of construction and the materials used in the past since it is easier to build a structure for a storm that might occur every 50 years than one that might occur every 20.

How climate change is changing the way we build? - Sheet2
Recent flood in Pakistan_©Amer Hussain

There are many ways by which one can respond to the greenhouse effects like by developing ways that more greenhouse gas cannot be added to the already polluted environment and secondly by countering the current conditions (basically by being resilient). A resilient design includes parameters like the adversities of weather (earthquake, drought, flood, overheating and more) and attempts at protecting against them. It can also be defined as discovering the alternate ways by which we can counter this adverse situation.

How can one counter climate change:

Buildings provide shelter to their users and allow them to escape the harshness of the climate. However, adapting to well-designed and resilient buildings is the only way to attune to the change in the climate. This process can save trillions of dollars worth of damages caused by unalarmed natural disasters. When nature causes disaster, it also helps in providing the solution for it. One can cater the changes like heatwaves with minimal mechanical usage, like by orienting the house in the direction of the wind so that the cool breeze can flow through the house keeping it cool. Also, plants are extremely beneficial in such settings as growing deciduous trees helps in providing shade in summers and directing sunlight in the winters.

For a building in a region where the temperatures are extremely low, humans tend to adapt to the situation by using indoor heating systems, but these systems end up using too many resources and releasing greenhouse gases. For regions like these design strategies and material used plays a vital role, and technology helps in the process indeed. Like pairing the building with smart thermostats, motion sensors for turning the lights on and off can be of help in reducing the number of emissions.

Like in ancient times when there were the least technologies available, people were still able to build homes that were able to adapt to the climate without any mechanical help. The houses used timber, mud, straws, cow dung, stone and many other natural materials. Mud and cow dung layer on the walls helps to cool off the house in extreme heat. However, with modernisation, new technologies came into existence and people started using them unwisely and due to which pollution rose and led to the emission of greenhouse gases in large quantities. 

Mud plaster on walls_©Mitashi Singh, Harikrishnan CU

One must think carefully about how a structure can withstand harsh weather conditions to respond to climate change in a reasonable way. Sustainability and environmental awareness should not be compromised, though. Unavoidably, the structures that are being built would change as a result of climate change. Consequently, experts (like architects, engineers and other industrial specialists) must discover a solution, which might be a new design method or new material that can be employed to create structures that can meet the challenges of adverse climate to some level.


Online sources:

How are buildings and infrastructure changing in response to climate change? (n.d.). Retrieved December 25, 2022, from

  1. (2022). OmDayal group of institutions.

Cramer, N. (2017, October 4). The climate is changing. So must architecture. Architect.

The Conversation. (2021, July 5). Climate change is affecting buildings as they were designed for a different environment. Tech2.

5 ways to make buildings climate change resilient. (2021, July 7). UNEP; United Nations Environment Programme.

English, T. (2020, August 2). How changing climate conditions are altering building design. Interesting Engineering.

Video references:

Programme, U. N. E. [@UNEP]. (2021, July 6). A practical guide to climate-resilient buildings. Youtube.

Image sources:

A 5-point plan for reducing your organization’s greenhouse gas emissions. (2022, April 8). Harvard Business Review.

Pakistan floods have affected over 30 million people: climate change minister. (2022, August 27). Reuters.

Singh, M., & Harikrishnan, C. U. (n.d.). International Women’s Day: How women lead climate adaptation in eastern India’s Adivasi areas. Org.In. Retrieved December 25, 2022, from


Priyanka garg, born and raised in Delhi is a student who has developed interest in architecture. She likes writing, reading and designing. Also, she has a key interest in sustainable and eco-friendly measures for design and construction to make the world a better place to live.